What do you know about cervical cancer?
Cervical cancer can affect women of any age, although it is rare in women under 25 and over 65. Over eight women a day are diagnosed with cervical cancer, however it has the fifth highest survival rate of all cancers. There are two main types of cervical cancer; Squamous cell carcinoma and Adenocarcinoma.
Squamous cell carcinoma is the most common type of cervical cancer. It develops from the flat cells from the outer surface of the cervix.
Adenocarcinoma develops from the glandular cells which line the cervical canal. If adenocarcinoma forms, it can be difficult to detect on a cervical screening.
How do I prevent cervical cancer?
There isn’t any way to protect yourself 100% from developing this type of cancer, however there are things that you can do to assist in preventing it:
Attend cervical screenings
Regular cervical screenings should be taken every three years for people between the ages of 25 – 49, and every five years for people between the ages of 50 – 65. Regular screening may help to prevent cervical cancer and catch any abnormalities at a very early stage.
The screenings help to identify abnormal cells before they have the chance to progress into anything more serious.
Although it is not mandatory for you to attend cervical screenings, it is highly recommended. 45% of cervical cancer diagnoses can be prevented by attending a screening.
Take precautions during sex
Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) is the most common cause of women developing cervical cancer. HPV is very common and highly contagious, the abnormality in the cervical cells that HPV causes will be picked up in a cervical screening.
HPV is spread through skin to skin contact, and sexual intercourse, so wearing a condom to prevent it will help in reducing the risk of developing cancer.
You can be screened and treated for HPV.
If you have contracted HPV, smoking will prevent your body from getting rid of the virus, which could eventually lead to cancer.
Cervical cancer takes many years to develop. Before it does, changes occur in the cells of the cervix. These abnormal cells are not cancerous and are known as cervical intraepithelial neoplasia.
Giving up smoking will improve your overall health and ability to recover from health conditions.
Common symptoms of cervical cancer
There are a number of symptoms to look out for, if you are showing signs of any of the following, make an appointment with your GP.
- Bleeding between periods, during and after sexual intercourse, and any abnormal bleeding after you have gone through the menopause
- Vaginal discharge with any accompanying unpleasant smell
- Pain and discomfort during sexual intercourse
Common cervical cancer treatment side effects
If you are diagnosed with cancer and need to go through a course of treatment, you may experience some long and/or short term side effects, including:
- Sexual dysfunction